Sneaking in Literary Devices in Copywriting

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Writing copy can get a little too technical. The writer needs to be concise and straight to the point. There has to be a corresponding source for every significant point, may it be statistics, word of authority, or just plain facts. No one can blame writers. They need to sound like they are experts in the subject. Convincing readers to believe the copy is paramount.

The challenge lies in whether it’s engaging enough for the audience to continue reading. Solutions to this have been taught in basic writing at school: start with a powerful intro and compose a captivating headline.

But there are ways to make the article fun to read. Make the tone informal—start a sentence with “but.” Pretend like you’re talking to the reader, so the article feels personal—use a second-person point of view and break the fourth wall.

On the contrary, specific clients run formal blogs with an authoritative tone. Therefore, the copy must reverberate like a dissertation or a business email. The writer must, then, utilize transition words and phrases as well as semi-hifalutin words.

No matter the demands of a client or the copy, a writer should be able to overcome the limitations. To produce an engaging copy, a writer should tap into their creativity. With the topic of car loans, for example, a writer can turn the article about copywriting using literary devices.

Writing Creative Copy

In writing school, students are taught the basics of creative writing. There are poetic devices (alliteration, assonance, imagery, etc.) and figures of speech (simile, metaphor, etc.). Professors also teach them about literary devices (characters, setting, theme, etc.). Who could forget the golden rule of “show, don’t tell” or that the magic number is three?

Storytelling in copywriting is common. TV ads become like short films with the goal of making people feel emotional. An Instagram caption tells the story of the person or the item on the picture. On websites, companies fill their “About Us” pages with history. Hence, the apple of literary techniques should not fall far from the copywriting tree.

Show, Don’t Tell

The rule of showing not telling means that instead of narrating what happened, the storyteller must include vivid detail to allow the audience to paint a picture in their heads. For example, think of how they advertise the newest flagship phones. Their ads do not simply say they’re fast, thin, and innovative. The company has to highlight the specs of the device.

Why is it fast? It has a bionic processor and a 16GB RAM. How thin is it? 1 millimeter. What makes it different from the others? It has a back full of cameras—plus it’s foldable and fully touch screen without bezels.

There are no phones like this, but it gives enough detail to construct a hypothetical new flagship phone in the reader’s head. That’s what the act of showing does.

Tell a Story

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It’s ironic how we say “tell” a story when what is asked of writers is to “show”. Even then, to apply the “show, don’t tell” rule, writers need to incorporate literary and poetic devices as well as the figures of speech. As said earlier, the “About Us” pages on websites are a great example of this.

To share the company’s history to their potential customers, they need to tell a story of how they went from rags to riches or started out as a small business that eventually grew. The characters would the founders of the company and the people who keep the business running today. The setting can be the garage where they started their office or the bedroom of an aspiring millennial. Throughout the story, the writer can throw in a few metaphors to add some color.

The Magic Number Is Three

The triad is the number of the complete whole,” says Aristotle—the philosopher of the beginning, middle, and end in literary theory. The explanation for the fascination with this number is a long shot. However, its use in art, design, and literature is prevalent.

In writing, this is used for series or stating examples. Consider looking back at the examples in this article. They use three entries except for “(simile, metaphor, etc.)”. Whether the audience gives this a pass or not is in their liking, but the goal of the number three is to illustrate the point clearly. It adds enough information to support a statement, like when painting an image of a hypothetical game-changing flagship phone in the market.

Writers—artists in general—should not be scared of experimentation. It is in these times when they discover new styles and innovate more ways of performing their jobs as a copywriter.

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